Survey: 75% of Kids Under 4 Have Own Mobile Device

There is 'almost universal exposure' among kids, researchers say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2015 8:12 AM CST
Survey: 75% of Kids Under 4 Have Own Mobile Device
Young boys operate smartphones at SK Telecom Museum in Seoul, South Korea, May 15, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A recent study found handing your toddler an iPad is a bad idea; a new study shows 97% of kids under age 4 have used a mobile device anyway and 75% have a tablet, smartphone, or iPod of their own. The small-scale study—based on the responses of 350 low-income parents in Philadelphia—identified "almost universal exposure, early adoption, and use of mobile media devices among young children," the lead author tells the CBC. About 70% of parents said their children used devices unsupervised, including while parents did chores. About 65% said a device was used to appease a child in public, while 25% of parents said they'd left a child with a device at bedtime, though screens generally keep sleep at bay, per the New York Times. Some 44% of kids under 1 and 77% of 2-year-olds used a mobile device daily; a third of 3- and 4-year-olds used more than one device at a time.

A researcher at Philadelphia's Einstein Medical Center says, "We see every parent pulling out the iPhone and giving it to their baby," so the study "was sort of validation (in) real life," per USA Today. A psychology professor says the results are "huge," but "we simply don't know what the consequences are for (kids') early social development." An expert on media and children's health adds he "would not be surprised if these levels of device ownership and use were similar in many families" outside of Philadelphia, but he questions whether parents should actually be worried. Scientists "ring the alarm bell without any content on why we should be alarmed," he says. They should conduct "research to understand how we are changed by the media we use." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a device with your child, setting time limits, and establishing tech-free zones. (More toddlers stories.)

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